Pigeon Mountain Revisited – Still Not a Volcano!!

If my readers recall, I did a post about Volcanoes in Georgia, specifically Pigeon Mountain. After a number of comments from geologists, I learned that it wasn’t a volcano. However, I still wanted to visit the mountain and see things for myself. Although I didn’t doubt the experts, it’s always good to verify information. I also like to learn!

Imagine my surprise when I received a comment from Tennessee Heartwood telling me that they planned an excursion with a geologist to visit Pigeon Mountain. What is Tennessee Heartwood? It’s a 501c3 organization dedicated to the preservation of Tennessee public lands heritage. Their efforts include the Cherokee National Forest and Land Between the Lakes NRA. The Cherokee National Forest is a huge forest tract in Tennessee that joins other national forests in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia (the Chattahoochee National Forest).

Anyway, I jumped at the chance to see the mountain and talked my brother into going with me. We got up early and hit the road since it’s about a 2 and a half hour drive to get there from our part of Georgia. We had a great time riding through the mountains and seeing the dawn break. Beautiful drive! I can truthfully say there are some wide open spaces between Gainesville, GA and the Pigeon Mountain Grill just outside of Lafayette, GA!

We joined the rest of the group and discovered we couldn’t actually go on the mountain since we didn’t have either a hunting or fishing license. it turns out that Pigeon Mountain is a Georgia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and you can’t visit it without one of the licenses. Nonetheless, we went all around the mountain and thoroughly enjoyed our discussions with our geologist tour guide Jay. Jay grew up around Pigeon Mountain and was a wealth of knowledge about the different geologic periods. In addition, he explained in simple terms and how the formed. And yes, he confirmed that Pigeon Mountain isn’t volcanic.

Roadside Waterfall Pigeon Mountain

Roadside Waterfall Pigeon Mountain

Pigeon Mountain is part of the Cumberland Plateau and there is a ton of limestone up there. The limestone erosion caused the deep pits (like Ellison’s Cave and Petty John’s Cave) in the mountain. If you’re familiar with sinkholes in Florida, the process is similar.  All told, it was an entertaining and educational day. We found fossils, learned about chert (which can be fashioned into tools), sandstone, and limestone. We also got to see first hand evidence of the different geologic periods present in the area.

Fossils Pigeon Mountain

Pigeon Mountain Fossils

Although I confirmed first hand that Pigeon Mountain wasn’t volcanic, I was still disappointed. A bigger disappointment was that there weren’t any gemstones native to the area. Fun as it was to visit, I’ll stick to my Northeast Georgia Mountains and hunt gemstones and prospect for gold!

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Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, or Pinterest and tell me what you think about Pigeon Mountain. You can leave a comment, too, or email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Expedition Bigfoot Museum Near Blue Ridge Georgia

I had the opportunity to spend a recent Saturday in Talking Rock, Georgia (near Ellijay, GA) with my children and grandchildren (and the lovely and adorable Lana) at a nice mountain cabin. While there, we discovered a neat little museum near Blue Ridge (home of fairy crosses from The Gemstone Chronicles) devoted to Bigfoot! Called Expedition Bigfoot, it was a neat place! I had no idea Georgia was home to Sasquatch, but it certainly has it share of sightings.

If you read the blog, you’ll recall my post about Bigfoot from 2016. That post focused on the Pacific Northwest, where some of the most well-known sightings, photos, and video footage originates. As I found out, though, every state in the contiguous United States, Alaska, and Canada all have sightings. I can’t leave Hawaii out, either. The Hawaiian version, known as Menehune, are humanoid creatures about 3 feet tall. Even if they don’t measure up to the Bigfoot stature, it’s still an unknown creature and makes you wonder.

So, what did we find at Expedition Bigfoot? First, check out this map of Georgia with sightings marked on it. I cropped the bottom half of the state so I could zoom in to the more numerous sightings in North Georgia.

Expedition Bigfoot


Though it’s hard to see, if you look closely at the map, you can see green pins showing the sightings. Interestingly, a number of sightings occurred near Cleveland, GA, where we go gemstone hunting. I’ll have to keep an eye out when I’m up there!

Another famous sighting happened near Barnesville, GA (bottom middle of the map above, just to the left of the lowermost I75 symbol). The picture of the foot casting below was taken near Elkin Creek in Pike County, GA. If this is an accurate casting, the creature certainly has a big foot!

Expedition Bigfoot


If you watch The Travel Channel, you’ve probably seen shows featuring Josh Gates. In 2007, Josh cast a Yeti footprint. Below is the casting with Josh Gates in the background. That’s pretty cool!

Expedition Bigfoot

There are audio recordings at Expedition Bigfoot and you can don a set of headphones and hear cries, thumping on trees, and other sounds attributed to the creatures. Cool stuff!

I know none of this proves the existence of Bigfoot, but it sure makes for interesting speculation. I’ve not seen one, and skepticism runs deep. However, one of the people we spoke with at the museum declared herself not a believer, but a knower, and claims to have experienced many sightings over the years. Who knows? She might be correct!

Which are you? Are you a skeptic, a believer, or a knower? Leave me a comment and let me know! If you’ve seen one, give the details. I’d really like to know! Have you visited Expedition Bigfoot? Let us know and tell us about your own expedition to find Bigfoot!

If you want to email about your experience, send it to bill@williamlstuart.com. I also welcome new friends on social media. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, say hello, and let’s connect!

Volcanoes – In Georgia?!?! Yes! Pigeon Mountain!! (Or not)…

After receiving a number of comments about this post (most of them gently telling me that my information was incorrect), I did additional research about volcanoes in Georgia. Sadly, the comments are correct. Pigeon Mountain isn’t a dormant volcano. In fact, based on the more extensive research I did, the geology just doesn’t work. Most of the rock in the area is sandstone or limestone and doesn’t lend itself to volcanic activity. Though what is now Georgia had volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago, Pigeon Mountain wasn’t part of it. So, please forgive my error and thanks for all the corrections submitted to me!

Volcanoes – in Georgia???


When you think of volcanoes in the US, where do you think of them? Hawaii is a good bet, since there are 3 active volcanoes in the state. Maunaloa last erupted in 1984, but Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. In addition, Loihi is still underwater, but erupting.

How about Alaska? Lots of volcanic activity up there. Or maybe the Pacific Northwest? Mount St. Helen, Mount Shasta, Mount Rainier all come to mind. There are even a few in California that are monitored by the USGS. And, we all know about Yellowstone and the supervolcano lurking beneath the surface.

But, have you ever thought about volcanoes in Georgia? Believe it or not, Pigeon Mountain in Northwest Georgia is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1857. Besides Pigeon Mountain itself, in the Pigeon Mountain Volcanic Range there are 5 extinct volcanoes and 1 collapsed caldera. As you can see, this isn’t an impressive volcano.

Located in Walker County Georgia near Lafayette, Pigeon Mountain features two caves. One of them, Ellison’s Cave is the 12th deepest cave in the US and reaches a depth of 1063 feet. According to Wikipedia, it a a technically difficult cave to explore and beginners are severely urged not to enter the cave.

Volcanoes Ellison's Cave

The second cave, Petty John’s Cave, is a wild cave – not commercialized. As Wikipedia tells us, this is a cave much more suited to beginners. Still the basics of caving (spelunking) should be observed.

Between the two caves, explorers have mapped more than 20 miles of passages. It might be a cool trip for experienced cavers to experience. Since I’m not, I doubt I’ll be going in the caves.

So, what can you expect to find when exploring near dormant or extinct volcanoes? Well, for Pigeon Mountain, iron (usually in the form of hematite). No diamonds or any other precious gemstones are listed in the area, but the ghost town of Estelle is on Pigeon Mountain. Estelle was a iron mining town, so maybe there is a bit of iron left to find! And hematite tumbles into a beautiful silver stone.

Much like the abundance of gemstones in the North Georgia Mountains, I had no idea volcanoes had ever played a part in Georgia’s history. I’ll keep researching and let you know what I discover. And who knows, maybe what I find will become part of my next book, just as gemstones played a major role in The Gemstone Chronicles!

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What do you think? Did you know about the volcanoes that dot the North Georgia Mountains? Leave me a comment and let me know. And, so you don’t miss a post, subscribe to the blog. If you want to connect with me on the socials, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest.


Gemstones and Wire-Wrapping – or What I’ve I Been Up To Lately!!!

I’ve been reading, doing a little writing (revisions on The Gemstone Chronicles and a new work-in-progress) and I haven’t done a post about gemstones in quite a while. So, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been up to with my gemstone collection (which keeps growing!). Because I have so many rocks now, I decided to take up wire-wrapping. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share pictures of a few tumbled stones that I really like. I believe three of the rocks shown below are obsidian, but the fourth one is a smoky quartz. I would love to show you the light shining through it, but the picture just wouldn’t work.

Round Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Round Tumbled Obsidian

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz Wire

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz

In the picture above, the smoky quartz is in the upper right and looks similar to the other stones. However, when the light shines on it, you can see through the stone.

Those are just a few of the stones from my tumblers (which run 24/7). Having all these tumbled stones led me to try my hand at wire-wrapping as I mentioned above. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I watch a lot of videos about different types of wrapping. I try to keep mine fairly simple, since I am still learning. Below are a few examples of my efforts.

Onyx Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Onyx

Quartz Pendant Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Pencil Quartz Pendant

The quartz stone below were drilled using my Dremel drill press stand. It did a great job and made a clean smooth hole in the center of the stone. Perfect for wire wrapping! Here is a picture of my setup

Dremel Gemstones Wire

Dremel Drill press

Drilled and Wrapped Quartz Gemstones Wire

Center Drilled and Wrapped Quartz

Aventurine Gemstones Wire

Wrapped Aventurine

I know I have a lot of work to do and much more practice to go before the techniques are learned and the results acceptable, but I’m having fun!

Because I need some thinner pieces (and you can’t count on finding those in a natural state), I’m going to start using my tile saw to slab some of my larger rocks. I’ll do a post on that soon. After cutting the slabs, I’ll use my templates to get rough shapes and then throw the stones in the tumbler to polish them and get them ready to  wire wrap. I won’t make perfect shapes, but that’s fine by me. I prefer a more organic look anyway!

So, there you have what I’ve been up to with my gemstones. Like them? Leave me a comment and let me know or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss any of my posts, consider subscribing to the blog. Lastly, if you are on the socials and want to connect, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’m always looking to meet new friends!


Nuclear Powered Aircraft – In Dawsonville, GA!?!?

Nuclear Powered Aircraft!?

Readers of my blog and The Gemstone Chronicles know that I spent a decade in US Navy riding submarines and recruiting. I was trained as a nuclear reactor operator, and still keep up with some of the news in the nuclear world. My lovely and adorable bride, Lana, introduced me to a very cool website atlasobscura.com. While browsing the site, I came across an article on a government research facility from the 1950’s in Dawsonville, Georgia. What does this have to do with submarines or nuclear power? Well, this research facility was used to test the radiation effects on various materials and the surrounding forest in an effort to build a nuclear powered aircraft! The map below, though kind of hard to read, shows the layout of the site.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft Site Map

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the site was the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory (or AFP No. 67) and was run by Lockheed. The purpose was to test various military vehicles and the surrounding forest to assess the effects of nuclear war on the environment and wildlife and the do research on a nuclear powered aircraft. The site was closed in 1971 and sold to Atlanta as a potential site of a second airport. The topography wasn’t suitable for an airport, and nature has reclaimed much of the site. Here is a picture of the hot cell building.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft Hot Cell Bldg

With the secrecy surrounding the site, it comes as no surprise that most of the documents about what was done in the forest remains highly classified. And no nuclear powered aircraft came from the work. It does make me wonder, though, if some of the experiments led to materials used on submarines.

I did further research and found a lot of conspiracy stuff (not surprisingly) about the site. I also found claims of animals with interesting deformities and abnormalities. There are alleged sightings of deer with two racks of antlers, albino black bears, and other such creatures. In the research I did, one of the reactors on site was an open air (or naked) reactor that was hoisted into the air while operational and without shielding, allowing the radiation to blast the surrounding forest. Personnel at the site were in underground shielded areas during the open air testing. The picture below shows the site circa 1960.

Nuclear Powered Aircraft GNAL-Circa-1960-Web

The underground facility was supposedly six or seven levels deep, but who knows for sure. When the site closed, the entrance tunnels were collapsed and sealed. One of the remaining visible buildings is the hot cell, which is also sealed and surrounded by barbed wire fencing. The hot cell is where they placed irradiated materials for further study. The building was deemed to be too hot to demolish until the radiation levels subsided more. That might be another 30-50 years…

The area is now public land managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, and you can kayak down the Etowah River that runs through the site.

As you can imagine, I have to take a trip up there to look around. It isn’t very far from where I live, so maybe next weekend might be a good time to go! When I do, I will be sure to post pics and do a follow-up to this post.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we never had a nuclear powered aircraft. The USAF did experiment with a reactor in a plane, but that was to test the shielding for the crew. The reactor never actually powered the engines. I do recall when I was in Idaho in the Navy, there was an experiment going on to convert nuclear power for space travel, though, but I don’t know much more than that.

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It looks pretty cool to me, but what do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know. You can connect with me on social media, too. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, and Tumblr. You can also send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss a post (including my follow-up to this one), subscribe to the blog!


Gem Hunting in the Southeast US – Where Will I Go??

Y’all know about my gem hunting hobby and how the gemstones are such an integral part of my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles. You also know about my favorite gemstone hunting spot in the North Georgia Mountains. You might have even read about my trip to the Hogg Mountain Mine near LaGrange, GA or the trip to Hiddenite, NC. I hope the posts inspired you to go out on your own gem hunting excursions (or at least read and review my books)! Living in the Southeast, I decided to find new places fairly close to home and consider them for a visit, or share them with y’all in case you want to make a trip! To be fair, I didn’t look at other Southeast US states likes Florida, and Mississippi and Arkansas are a bit far for me (at least for a day trip).

Today, though, I want to give you an overview of places that I have researched on the Internet and where I might have to go for a visit over the next few months. Let’s start right here in Georgia, where I found this emerald and my brother John found the peridot that I had cut and set for a birthday present for the lovely and adorable Lana!

Southeast Lana's-Emerald-Web

Southeast Lana's-Peridot-Ring-Web


The North Georgia Mountains have many places to hunt for gemstones (and gold, if you are so inclined).

  • Graves Mountain (Lincoln County, Georgia): According to GeorgiaEnclcyopedia.org, Graves Mountain is a unique geological area filled with some of the finest specimens of kyanite, pyrite, pyrophyllite, rutile, and lazulite. They occasionally open the site to rockhounds, and I intend to be at the next dig!
  • Consolidated Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): A great place to visit to get an idea of what it was like to dig for gold underground. You can tour the mine and will end up about 140 feet underground. At the end of the tour, you can pan for gold and screen for gems.
  • Crisson Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): Another gold mine in Dahlonega, you can pan for gold here, too. If you want to, you can sign up to be a member of the Weekend Gold Miners at Crisson Gold Mine and gain access to the leased lands operated by the Weekend Gold Miners and prospect to your heart’s content!

South Carolina:

  • Diamond Hill Mine (Antreville, SC): The website for the Diamond Hill Mine says you can find quartz, amethyst (though rare), and other gemstones. For me, it would be about a 2 hour drive. Hours are 9-5 and no digging after dark. The website has some pictures of finds at the site and they look pretty good. I think I can foresee a road trip!

North Carolina: I have to say that North Carolina offers many opportunities for gemstone exploration. I will only list a few, but do your own research and find many more!

  • Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine (Franklin, NC): This mine sounds like my kind of place. While they do offer salted buckets, they also offer the opportunity to dig your own dirt and keep what you find. I think this is a place for me! They are open from March 1 – December 1 and a day of digging will cost $30. This is about a 2 hour drive for me, so easily doable for a1 day trip.
  • Cherokee Ruby Mine (Franklin, NC): Another mine that is now offering dig your own dirt option. This one comes with a little bit of a limitation: for the dig your own option, you can fill 6 buckets for $30 and you can fill 4 additional for $10 more. They do offer a flume to wash off the stones, but the fee seems a bit high for my tastes. The hours are 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. The mine is open May 1 – October 31. The mine is also cash only.

Tennessee: Other than copper mines around Ducktown and barite mines in other areas, I couldn’t find much about gem mines in Tennessee. Any of you Tennessee readers who want to give us some ideas, it would be greatly appreciated!

Alabama: Similar to Tennessee, I couldn’t find a lot about gem mines in Alabama, though I did fond some references to gold prospecting. As with the Tennessee folks, any hints you Alabama readers could give us would be appreciated!

For states outside the Southeast, please feel free to give us ideas about gem hunting opportunities near you. I can always try to plan a trip!

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Nana’s Cooking – The Real Deal (with a Slight Southern Accent)!!

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series know that, in the books, Nana’s cooking, has a food blog successful enough to allow her and Beebop to retire early and purchase their mountainside home, and swings a mean frying pan! Today, though, I want to focus on the real Nana (my lovely and adorable bride Lana), and her real life food blog!

Lana started her blog on Super Bowl Sunday 2009. Neither of us were interested in the game (it was the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals, in case you were wondering – and Pittsburgh won), so she decided to start a food blog. Her career as a webmaster made it easier for her to start and she built her website from scratch. From its humble beginnings as a hobby, it has grown to be a significant presence in the food blogosphere!

What can you expect to find at www.lanascooking.com? As of today, there are more than 600 recipes with a Southern accent, nice food photography, and step by step directions on how to prepare the delicious dishes featured on the blog. Lana likes to make traditional Southern recipes. She adds her own little twist on them. She designed the site in an easily navigable manner that makes finding just the right recipe a snap! Below are a couple of examples.

Have you ever heard of Pecan Cheesecake Pie? I can tell you (as chief taste tester I have to sample each dish) that it is fantastic! Here’s a picture:


Nana's Cooking pecan-cheesecake-pie-final-5001

I do believe Lana channels someone’s Italian grandmother. She makes some pretty amazing Italian dishes. This was one of her recent meals and let me tell you, it was simply delicious!

Nana's Cooking Jumbo Meatballs

Lana dotes on her family, too, especially her two amazing grandchildren. As readers of my blog and my book series The Gemstone Chronicles know, Aidan and Maggie are the inspiration for two of the main characters (and Lana inspired a 3rd character, too). On her blog you will find posts about them, a couple about me, and a few other topics that she enjoys.

I could go on and on about Lana, how her blog inspired me to take a chance on publishing my books, her cooking, and the many other things about her that I adore. It will be better for you all to just visit the site. Try a few recipes, read though the blog, and discover what a great site it truly is!

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If you want to leave me a comment about Lana’s blog, please do. If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com.

Lana’s connect information is on her site. Be sure to leave a comment or connect with her when you visit.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets – The Process Revealed!!

Gemstone hunting! One of my absolute favorite pastimes and one that led to the writing of The Gemstone Chronicles. I have talked about it in previous posts and even posted some pictures from the trips. Today, though, I want to walk you through the steps I go through when I pursue this hobby of mine! Yes, my gemstone hunting secrets revealed!

All of the pictures were taken by me on Sunday, March 15 at my favorite spot, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ in Cleveland, GA. If you have read any of my previous posts on this topic, you already know some of this, but let me summarize for new readers. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ is part of a commercial gold mine in the North Georgia Mountains. The property was part of the Loud Mine and continues to produce gold today.

For gold prospectors and gem enthusiasts, it is a great place to go for a fun (and sometimes profitable) visit. The site offers buckets and a covered sluice for sifting through the dirt to uncover treasures. They also offer mining at the creek – which is my favorite part. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ puts dirt dug from the mine pit next to the creek that runs through the property. Diggers can then fill buckets with dirt from the pile, take it to the creek, and sift through it. Whatever you find, you get to take home!

When we arrived (we being my brother John, his daughter Simone, and me) on Sunday morning, we had a fresh pile of dirt to dig through. However, it was wet and heavy dirt from recent rains, and it made for some heavy buckets!

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Dirt Pile

Our process is to fill 5 gallon buckets with dirt from the pile and lug the buckets down to the creek. Trust me when I say that after 4 hours of toting buckets of dirt, you will be pretty tired! Here are my 4 buckets ready to be screened.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Buckets of Dirt

I like to stack my screening boxes on top of one of the buckets and fill from another bucket. Why? Because I can let the dirt sift through the screens and sift out larger rocks. This way, by the time I get to the last bucket, I have some sifted dirt I can put into my sluice box. More on that in a minute. First, I wanted to show how the boxes look when full of dirt and placed in the creek to begin the washing process.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screening boxes

I try to let the creek do most of the work in the process. I tilt the boxes up on each other to get good water flow through the dirt. Most of the dirt simply washes away and leaves a box full of rocks. In the box below, I found a pretty sizable ruby. It’s always a bonus to find something so easily!


Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screen Box with Ruby Outlined

As I mentioned above, I like to work through all the buckets and then dump the sifted dirt into my sluice box. It isn’t necessary to sift it first, but with the sluice box, it makes it easier to run dirt through. Below is a picture of the sluice box in the creek. If there is any gold in the dirt, it will either catch on the black mat or get caught in the green carpet.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Sluice Box

Once the dirt is run through the sluice, I rinse the carpet off in a bucket and then dump the contents of the bucket into my gold pan. I didn’t find any gold on this day, but I have found a few flakes before. It’s a bonus when you find the gold!

So, what did I find during my first gemstone hunting trip of the year? I found a few nice rocks, but the take wasn’t as good as some trips. Nevertheless, any day of gemstone hunting is a great day! Here are the results. The first picture is some of the gemstones I found.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets March 15 gemstones

From the upper left moving clockwise, we have rubies, garnets, quartz, citrine, and aventurine. Remember the ruby in the picture above, well, here is another view. The scale is set for grams, so doing the conversion, the stone is about 35 carats. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one would be a candidate for faceting, so it isn’t worth much. I still like it, though.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Big Ruby

There you have the process we use to hunt for gemstones. I did find a smaller ruby (about 20 carats) that I plan on sending to my gem cutter to see if it is a good stone. When a stone is cut, you lose about 75% in the cutting process, but, if the stone is a good one, I could end up with a 5 carat ruby. Not bad for $15 visit!

What do you think about our process? It really isn’t secret, but it is tons of fun! Any suggestions on making it more efficient? If you hunt gemstones, what do you do and where do you go? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.  can also be reached by email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting you!


Faceted Gemstones – Newest Additions!!

Regular readers of my blog (or my books) know that I’m a big fan of gemstones. I love faceted gemstones, cabochons, and tumbled stones. My books, The Gemstone Chronicles series, use the magical and mystical properties of gemstones as the basis of the magic the characters discover. I frequently go gemstone hunting at my favorite spot in the North Georgia Mountains, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’, in Cleveland, GA. My two rock tumblers run almost all of the time, smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the stones I’ve found to a brilliant luster. Occasionally, though, I find a special stone that can be cut and faceted. Shown below is the first stone I ever had cut (an emerald)!


Faceted Gemstones Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald


A 2.25 carat stone, it appraised nicely, and is still loose. Lana hasn’t decided on a setting yet. The stone is gorgeous, and since it was my first find, it is extra special!

My brother John found the peridot shown in the photo below. I had it cut for Lana. It weighed in at about 2.5 carats and I had it set in a sterling silver ring for her birthday. Beautiful!!


Faceted Gemstones

Lana’s peridot ring


Now, I have two new additions to the faceted gemstones family! I was hunting and found this rough ruby and sent it over to my faceting friend and he worked his magic. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the rough.

After cutting and polishing, here is the final faceted stone. Not huge by any means, but still weighing in at 1.3 carats, it is a great little stone!


Faceted Gemstones Ruby

Faceted Ruby


Note the description in the picture says sapphire, which is true. Recall that red sapphires are rubies! Gene cut the stone in a Cushion Cut, and it turned out beautifully!

I also sent over a piece of clear quartz that was stunning as a rough piece. Gene cut me two round brilliant cut stones about 1.25 carats each. I wanted to see how the quartz would turn out in a traditional diamond cut. I think they turned out great! What do you think?


Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz


What do you think about my faceted gemstones! I have some garnets that might facet well, but I have to get them cleaned up and see what they look like. A nice sapphire (blue not red) or a piece of aquamarine to have cut might be nice, but no such luck yet. I guess I just have to keep on looking!

Which of my faceted gemstones is your favorite? What setting would you use for the emerald or the ruby? Do you think the quartz brilliant cuts look like diamonds? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Calhoun Mine – One of Georgia’s Richest Gold Mines

In a couple of earlier posts, I mentioned the Georgia Gold Rush and named a few of the better known gold mines. Three of the more well-known gold mines were the Loud Mine, the Consolidated Mine, and the Calhoun Mine. Today’s post will be more about the Calhoun Mine.

According to Wikipedia, the land the Calhoun Mine is located on 239 acres originally owned by Robert Ober. After a couple of intermediary sales, John C. Calhoun, South Carolina senator and the 7th Vice President of the United States, purchased the land. Below is John C.’s picture and he is an intense looking kind of guy!

Calhoun Mine John C Calhoun

Calhoun purchased the land for $6000 dollars (approximately $167,000 in today’s dollars).  He began working the mine and it yielded much gold. Calhoun sent his son-in-law, Thomas Clemson, to run the mine. The deposit was rich and, according to an 1856 letter from Thomas Clemson to his brother-in-law, was still yielding significant quantities 30 year after the initial discovery.  Part of the money used to found Clemson University came from the Calhoun Mine and specimens from the mine are on display in the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta.

Calhoun Mine Thomas Clemson

Thomas Clemson

The Calhoun Mine passed from the Calhoun family in 1879 and, in 1939, a vein was found by Graham Dugas – one of the more colorful characters in Dahlonega’s Gold Rush history. The vein played out and the Calhoun Mine ceased operations. It is now privately owned and listed on the National Register of Historical Places and became a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

Calhoun Mine Historical Marker

Calhoun Gold Mine Historical Marker

I plan on taking a drive up to the area of the Calhoun Mine very soon and taking some pictures. If I can find out who owns the land now, I’ll see if they will let me go on the property and take a look around! It would be awesome to see where the gold came out of the ground!

In my books, The Gemstone Chronicles, Beebop owned land in the North Georgia Mountains. His land included an old mine and he prospected more for gemstones than gold, but who knows, maybe Beebop was on to something. Maybe there still is gold in those hills!! John C Calhoun certainly found some at the Calhoun Mine!

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Are there any gold mines where you live? If so, let me know about them! As always, feedback and shares are welcome. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +! I enjoy meeting new friends!